Ireland day 0197. Wednesday 13 April 2022- PhoenixEast

Ireland day 0197. Wednesday 13 April 2022- PhoenixEast
Today’s summary Took an early-ish train into Dublin while Val was out at work.   Intended to walk right round Phoenix Park but ran out of time.   Travelling to UK for a few days with family this evening
Today’s weather Dry and overcast in the morning, sun in afternoon.   Light westerly wind.   much milder than recently.   About 15C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my route)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Phoenix Park eastern circuit

Phoenix Park (from the Irish “Fionn Uisce” meaning “clear water” and nothing to do with the mythical bird) is a beautiful spot. It’s Dublin’s largest park by far – and in fact one of the largest in Europe. Perhaps it was the sunshine and relative warmth but whatever the reasons, it was looking lovely today.

We had visited a few weeks ago and at the time I had made a mental note to come back in the near future. With Val off to work bright and early, and with a much better weather forecast, today seemed like the ideal opportunity to pay a return visit. I eventually left the flat at 9:35 and by a fluke of timing I was on a nonstop train to Connolly at 9:38. And by an even greater stroke of luck, I walked off the train and pretty much straight onto a Luas tram. So I was at Heuston station by 10:15 and in the park five minutes later.

My original plan had been to try and walk right round the perimeter of the park – some 15km – but for reasons that I’ll explain later I ran out of time and had to cut it a bit short. So I set out from the Chesterfield Avenue gate, intending walk clockwise and to stay as close to the perimeter wall as I could.

The first landmark I reached was the Wellington Testimonial. It’s a monument rather than a valedictory speech, by the way, and as such it’s pretty impressive. At 62m / 203ft tall it is the largest obelisk in Europe. Construction started in 1817 but didn’t finish until 1860, because of a shortage of money. Wellington himself was born in Dublin and educated for a time in Drogheda. He went on to be British Prime Minister and was most celebrated for his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The next things you notice on your circumnavigation of the park are the abundant piles of poo decorating the grasslands. If you examine them closely (not something I’d recommend making a habit of), you soon realise it’s definitely herbivorous not canine, and you start looking out for the sheep that might have dropped them. Anyway when I went through this thought process I couldn’t see any sheep but soon spotted the culprits – a large herd of deer roaming around through some woodland on the horizon. It turns out there are around 600 fallow deer in Phoenix Park, and many of them are descended from the original herd introduced by the Duke of Ormond when he established the park in 1662.

Once the source of the droppings had been identified, the next landmark that needed investigation was the Magazine Fort. This is a roughly star-shaped fortification on the top of a hillock about halfway along the southern edge of the park. The fort was built by the British in 1735 but handed over to the Irish armed forces in 1922 after the war of independence. It was finally abandoned as a military site in the 1980s. Currently it is managed by the OPW but unlike most of their sites, which are excellent, this one is in a state of disrepair. A planning notice on the front gate did suggest that remedial works might in the pipeline, though.

Continuing on from the fort, the path dips and curves and takes you a bit further away from the roar of Dublin outside the wall. Today the air was filled with the song of skylarks and wood pigeons and it was sublime. The park is so big you could almost convince yourself you were out in the countryside, miles from town.

By this stage I was approaching the Furry Glen (surely that must be Fairy Glen?)* near Glen Water and I realised that I was running out of time to complete the whole perimeter. So I cut away from the wall and headed directly across the park in the direction of the visitor centre. I had intended to drop in at the excellent café there but this destination also had to fall by the wayside in the interests of saving time.

So I stopped briefly to enjoy my packed lunch on a park bench, then made my way quickly over to the northern perimeter wall and followed it more or less all the way back to the Chesterfield gate and then on to Heuston.

There were a couple of unusual incidents on this section of the route. The first happened was when I was overtaken by a rider speeding past on an unusually large unicycle. And the second was an eerie whine which temporarily displaced the skylarks and which sounded just like hyaenas howling for their lunch. In fact it probably was hyaenas howling for their lunch as I was right behind the zoo at the time.

I made it back to Malahide just after 2pm which was perfect timing. The reason for my haste today is that we are travelling to the UK this evening to catch up with family for a couple of days. We will be back on Saturday but in the meantime this daily blog will only contain a few brief notes for my personal record. So now I need to down tools and get packing!

*I subsequently learned that the “Furry Glen” may be named after the furze (or gorse) bushes that used to grow there


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Don’t mess with the fairies!   This is their lunch table. Checking out the Wellington testimonial.   It’s massive!
Up at the Magazine Fort.   It’s derelict now but it belongs to the OPW and signage which you could see inside through the chained-up entrance gate showed it had once been open to the public.   A planning application attached to the same gate suggested that works might soon be underway to restore it There are plaques at various intervals throughout the park telling you what the trees are and when they were planted.   This one says “No 33.   Thorn and Oak.   Planted 1896”.   There’s another one near the entrance that says “No. 64.   Quercus Ilex (Evergreen oak).   Planted 1904.   Presented by Lord Ardilaun”.
This unicyclists came speeding by as I was walking back to the station.   You don’t see many unicyclists but those you do see are normally on cycles with much smaller wheels,  presumably you can’t have gears on a unicycle (because there’s no chain) so this one, with the larger diameter, must be built for speed.   A bit like a penny-farthing, without the farthing Cleaning the windows on the Criminal Courts of justice, near the Chesterfield Avenue gate to Phoenix Park.   This isn’t a job I will be applying for
There are four bronze plaques round the Wellington testimonial, which were cast from cannons recovered in the battle of Waterloo. The plaque pictured here reads:
Asia and Europe, saved by thee, proclaim
Invincible in war thy deathless name,
Now round thy brow the civic oak we twine
That every earthly glory may be thine.”.
Wash my mouth out for saying it, but I do sometimes wonder if a bit more Wellington and a bit less Johnson might not go amiss in these currently troubled times.
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 11802 m
Max elevation: 57 m
Min elevation: 2 m
Total climbing: 261 m
Total descent: -261 m
Total time: 02:32:33
Download file: Phoenix East corrected.gpx

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